The motto of the Laugh Cellar, the only comedy club in wine country, is “macerate in comedy!” Come July 19, comedy fans will be able to do just that when the Wine Country Comedy Fest returns to the Santa Rosa club.
Now in its third year, the festival has been expanded from three to four days due to its popularity, said Lisa Pidge, festival promoter and co-owner of the Laugh Cellar. This year’s lineup includes an interesting blend of stand-up comedians performing at the Laugh Cellar stage over the course of four fun-filled days.
The Laugh Cellar is known for its efforts to promote diversity on the comedy scene, something that is evident in this year’s festival, which includes performances by trans woman Jeena Bloom, Cheri Hardman, who began her comedy career at the tender age of 54, Native American comedian Brian Bahe, and Shanti Charan, who was voted Best Bay Area Comedian 2016 by the Guardian and hosts a podcast celebrating South Asian food and comedy, called Mixing Masala.
“Our mission at the club is to work with talent that are professional, admired by their peers and present meaningful, relatable – and hilarious – content,” said Pidge. “We truly believe that each comic in the line-up this year is a ‘one and only’ talent.”
One of those comics is Jenny Yang, a labor organizer-turned-comedian, writer, and actor. In 2016, she was named a White House Champion of Change for her leadership in Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling and she’s been featured in the New York Times, LA Times, and on the BBC.
Yang has an infectious personality filled with wit and wisdom, and channels her intellectual pursuits into a no holds barred comedy style of “equal parts happy and angry.” “I’m the opinionated friend who will always tell you the truth about her personal life and about the world,” said Yang.
Yang has performed several times in Sonoma County, at shows organized by Pidge, and is a big fan of the Wine Country Comedy Fest.
“One of my favorite places to play is Sonoma and wine country,” said Yang, “Pidge puts together a festival full of soul and love and we can all feel it. Everyone is excited to be at the shows and that makes the night super fun.”
In addition to serving up a whole lot of laughs, and witty commentaries on topics like sexuality, gender and race, the Wine Country Comedy Fest will also be pouring plenty of wine – as is customary in this region. Laugh and wine pairings include “Spit AND Swallow: A Wine Tasting Comedy Show,” during which a sommelier and three comedians “teach” the audience about wine. The audience sips alongside those on stage, while the sommelier offers their learned approach to wine and the comedians offer their own unique, “notes of hilarity.”
The Wine Country Comedy Fest takes place at the Laugh Cellar (5755 Mountain Hawk, Santa Rosa) July 19-22, with package and individual show tickets available starting at $28. crushersofcomedy.com.